The second race of the 1994 Formula One season took place at the Aida Raceway, in Japan. The track was hosting the World Championship for the first time, and expectations ran high during the qualifying sessions to see who was poised to dominate the Pacific Grand Prix.
Determined to redeem himself in the second race, Senna had a spectacular qualifying session at Aida, in one of his many great duels with Schumacher. The battle came down to tenths of a second, as you can check out in the video below:
With a time of 1min10s218, Ayrton beat his opponent by 0s222 and secured the 64th pole position in his career. Damon Hill would be starting in third and McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen rounded out the second row.
After the qualifying sessions, the Williams mechanics worked through the night in order to adjust the suspension and make other changes asked by the driver. During the warm-up lap, Senna’s Williams car was perfect: fast and well-balanced – exactly what he needed in a truncated circuit, with 11 corners and 3.703 km (2.3 miles).
But Senna’s excitement about the car lasted less than a lap. Before exiting the first corner, he got involved in a crash with other drivers and was forced to postpone his dreams of winning with his new team once again.
Ayrton himself described the accident that took him out of contention: “Since Schumacher had a better start than me, I slowed down to avoid a crash on the first corner. But then, Mika Hakkinen [McLaren] clumsily rear-ended me and took me out of the race. I was already out of the track when Nicola Larini (Ferrari) t-boned my Williams, bringing my race at Aida to an end. Rubinho and Christian were all I could be happy about”, Senna told reporters.
At the end of the 88 laps, Schumacher won from beginning to end, and wasn’t bothered during the race. Gerhard Berger, who started in fifth place with his Ferrari, finished in second and Jordan’s Rubens Barrichello rounded out the podium. It was Rubinho’s first podium-finish in F1. Footwork’s Christian Fittipaldi finished in fourth place.
The result put Schumacher way ahead of the competition. The German now had 20 points, while Rubens Barrichello was in second, with seven. Hill and Berger trailed him, with six points each.